From the time of its construction in 1923, the Thorpeness water tower in Suffolk was destined to become a residence. Not only was this creative example of adaptive reuse ultimately transformed into a house, it was even designed to look like one in a bid to protect the skyline from what could potentially amount to an eyesore.
Despite appearances, the repurposed building boasts a solid steel frame beneath its outer cladding. The supporting structure provided unique living accomodation from the outset, with the 50,000 gallon water tower – disguised as a cottage – perched on top, at a height of 70 feet and visible from miles around.
Eventually Thorpeness was connected to the mains water supply and the famous water tower became redundant. The tank was removed in 1979 when the building was converted. The House in the Clouds now boasts five bedrooms, three bathrooms and the stunning “room at the top”, not to mention its own website.
The repurposed building’s journey from potential eyesore to much loved local treasure is somewhat similar to Britain’s iconic red telephone kiosks. Rural residents in picturesque settings weren’t impressed by their colourful addition to the landscape, but later fought tooth-and-nail to protect what had become an enduring symbol of Britishness.